Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December - A Review (better known as "Blog Posts I Intended to Write...")

It’s so hard to believe Christmas is now behind us and we’re just days away from ringing in the new year. It seems like just yesterday, it was Thanksgiving! There were many things I wanted to blog about during the month, but didn’t because of time constraints (and more often than not, I forgot to take photos!) Now that things are settling down, I wanted to share some of the highlights from our December. While this may will likely be world’s longest post, I hope you’ll find it worth the read

• At the beginning of the month, I celebrated my 44th birthday. (You know it’s going to be a good birthday when your dear hubby serves you red velvet cake for breakfast!) Oh, I love that man! ; ) At work, I arrived to find cakes, cookies, chocolates and other goodies from my sweet co-workers. It was glorious! For dinner, Tom took me to one of our favorite local restaurants. It’s always a treat as they are known for outstanding food, and service that is second to none. (Even moreso when it’s a special occasion.) At the end of the meal, we were treated to a wonderful dessert, compliments of the owner. It was a lovely day!

• That weekend, Tom and I hosted the youth leaders of our church for a Christmas dinner. We used to serve with these great people and many are very good friends...we absolutely loved having them in our home…it was a great, great time!

• The following week…Christmas cards, baking and a little shopping.

• The second weekend was a busy one! Friday was an ornament exchange at work. It was great because several former co-workers returned and it was soooooo good to catch up. More baking on Saturday and that night, a surprise birthday party for our friend, Tracy Robertson. Yet another wonderful time (and I remembered my camera!)

On Sunday…our annual cookie exchange! Two friends who had taken part for years relocated since our last one - one to North Carolina and one to Ireland! Needless to say…we really missed them. We welcomed a couple of new friends this time, met for lunch, had a great time together and exchanged our cookies.

• It was also during this particular weekend that our local city officials were judging homes in our community for a Christmas decorating contest. For the second year in a row, our house was one of the winners! Tom had worked very hard and did a WONDERFUL job! I was thrilled for him because he absolutely LOVES Christmas! You need to know he never puts up lights to compete, instead it’s just an expression of joy (which makes winning even sweeter). The mayor and other city officials came to our house to present Tom with a plaque and a large, beautiful poinsettia.

Jesus, Mary & Joseph are on the porch, along with angels. On the far left, you can see the 3 wise men and on the far right, there is a shepherd tending his sheep. The photos below are the side and a little of the back yard.

Those candles were given to us by Tom's Mom. She used them for years at her house and they are truly vintage! We love them!

• Just a few short days later, our local newspaper featured Tom as one of four homeowners with beautiful Christmas light displays. As you can see, although we love all the whimsy of Christmas, first and foremost our display points to Christ. When the article was written, I was delighted to see the reporter made a point of highlighting that, both in photos and her story!

• Later in the week…it was time for more baking! We had set aside an evening and my Mom, my sister, Marcia and my niece Brooke all came over and we baked like crazy ladies! (As you can see from the photos...we take our baking very seriously! LOL) Several different kinds of cookies, buckeyes, candy, etc…soooo much fun!

• That weekend, two biggies…Tom narrated our church’s beautiful Christmas Program, “One of Us.” He did a great job, as did the choir and orchestra. It's been a couple of years since our church did a large Christmas program and we really enjoyed it. Later that same night…our kids arrived home! We could not wait to see them! Married life certainly agrees with both of them. We had a a great time “catching up” for an hour or so and planned a dinner together the following night. They’re so happy to be home and we’re thrilled to have them! Bless their hearts, they’re trying so hard to spend lots of quality time with BOTH sides of the family. = )

• The last few days before Christmas, more baking! This time - loaves and loaves of pumpkin bread, and also…this incredibly easy (and very addictive) snack, found on a great blog...Beneath my Heart!

• Since my first Christmas with Tom's family as his fiancée in 1983, we’ve spent Christmas Eve at the home of his sister, Nancy and her husband, Dan. They have a log cabin...so beautiful and cozy -- it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else. The fire in the stone fireplace and the Christmas decor make the house look extra special. We had a great time and if you saw the slides in the previous post, you know that the hit of the night was the digital frame we got for Bob & Millie. Nancy had compiled photos from all of us and grouped them into decades. There were over 300 of them! Bob and Millie absolutely loved it, as did the rest of the family. It was especially fun to watch Breezy as she saw many of her new family members as they looked “back then.”

After Nancy & Dan's, we came back to our house to celebrate “Our Christmas” with Brennan & Breezy. We had such a sweet time together and they absolutely loved their gifts. They surprised us with a beautiful wedding portrait. LOVE it!

• Christmas Morning at our house was quiet. Had my devotional time and then after a little while, finished wrapping a couple of things and we headed to my parents’ house to celebrate with my side of the family in the early afternoon. We enjoyed delicious lasagna and homemade lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, cookies, etc. (I love my Mom's cooking, but especially her desserts!)

As to our gift exchange, we did things differently this year. Because we’ve all felt the pinch economically, we opted to forego the usual gifts and instead each person brought only 1 gift valued at $10-15. They all went into a pile in the middle of the floor and we drew numbers to determine the order. You could choose a gift, but the person after you could either take it or choose a new one. Our family had an absolute blast with this! There were movie certificates, blockbuster certificates, gift cards for food, ice cream, Starbucks and even some board games in the mix. Besides spending only about 15% of what we normally would, there was so much less stress and time spent running all over town looking for this or that gift, which made for a much calmer, more reflective Christmas. Definitely helped me keep my focus on Christ like never before.

As we wrapped up our time at my parents' house, we headed to my in-laws to once again join the rest of his family for a little while on Christmas night. Every year, as we leave their house to head home, Tom and I simultaneously thank God for granting us yet another Christmas with them. Both his Mom & Dad are in their upper 80’s and every year is truly a gift.

• Saturday evening (the night after Christmas), Tom and I went along with Brennan, Bri, Bri’s Mom, Lisa and our friends, the Robertsons to Bethlehem Blessings at the Creation Museum. Despite very cold temps, we really enjoyed our time together there…we were especially partial to the vignette of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (played by a wonderful family friend) and the live animals.

• Sunday was a day of rest! (And boy, did we need that!) Hope you and yours have had a wonderful and special December celebrating CHRIST and making some great memories with family and friends.

• If you’ve made it this far and you’re still reading…I want to say THANKS! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $10 St*rbucks gift card (a Merry Christmas gift from me!) If you share your favorite December memory in your comment, I’ll enter your name twice! Feel free to enter up until midnight (Eastern time) New Year’s Eve…I’ll draw and announce the winner on New Year’s Day!

Love & sweet blessings!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Family Christmas - 2009

Hope you and yours had a wonderful and special Christmas together! Ours was terrific! We had such a great time and very much enjoyed our moments together. (Wish I didn't have to go back to work tomorrow!) I'm hoping to post a few more photos later in the week of other highlights from throughout the month...
Blessings to you!

Friday, December 25, 2009

O Holy Night...

From our family to yours...may you have a most joyous and blessed Christmas! When things settle and you have a few quiet moments, please watch this...one of the most moving recordings of this song I have ever heard...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge # 24!!!

Don't have too long...like many of you, I'm up to my elbows in Christmas preparations. Just wanted to check in to share my last passage. Like countless others this month, I decided to join Beth Moore in closing out the year with her favorite passage, Psalm 27:4 (NIV):

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

I couldn't think of a more perfect passage for closing out the year. This challenge has been a wonderful and incredible faith builder. While I have memorized scripture before, I've never done so a consistent basis. It has truly been life-changing! In a year of several twists and turns (my Dad's injury, job changes, the marriage of our son, to name a few...) I've never felt more peace in the very depths of my soul. Over and over again, the Lord has encouraged me, admonished me, humbled me and strengthened me as I read, re-read and committed these passages to memory.

I'm not sure yet if there will be an "official" Scripture Memory Challenge for 2010, but I personally have no intention of stopping! I'm hoping if you took part this year, you too will continue. If you didn't, why not give it a try? Think about it, only two verses a month. You can do it!

Blessings sweet friends!

Friday, December 4, 2009

...And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to my friend
Lea of Shabby Olde Potting Shed!!!

Lea and I have been blog buddies for quite some time and let me just tell you, she is a TREASURE! She's got a joy in the Lord that is contagious, and she's one of the sweetest encouragers you will ever know. She's also extremely talented when it comes to sewing, crafting, gardening, etc. If you don't know her (or even if you do)...stop by and say Hello!!!
Thanks to everyone else for taking part! = )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cookies Anyone?? A Giveaway!

Greetings! Hope this Wednesday finds you well. If you read my post on Monday , you know I promised a GIVEAWAY sometime this week -- well...today's the day!! What's the occasion? Well, it's my birthday! = ) And since we all know everything is sweeter when shared with friends, I've decided to share the birthday joy and cheer with YOU!

I think you will agree that ANYTIME is a good time for cookies, but isn't that especially true at Christmas? Not only are they delicious and fun to bake, they make wonderful gifts! Just yesterday, a co-worker surprised me with a batch of her fabulous Pecan Puffs. They were WONDERFUL, and they warmed my heart all throughout the day!

, what am I giving away? How about this terrific Gooseberry Patch cookbook, filled to the very brim with yummy cookie recipes? (Talk about dreamy!) And how about this darling little snowman plate? Wouldn't he make a great gift, filled with home-made cookies!? (or perhaps filled with cookies in your own kitchen?) LOL!

All you need to do is simply leave a comment sometime between now and tomorrow (12/3) at 10:00 pm (Eastern Time), telling me the name of your favorite cookie. If you don't have a blog, please be sure to leave your e-mail address within your comment. The winner will be posted sometime on Friday! Here's hoping you win! = )

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge # 23

(photo courtesy of Google images)

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
"This is the way; walk in it."

~ Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)